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#ClayinKrakow Day 6: The Journey Home…and Now What?

Day 6 of my #ClayinKrakow trip was pretty darn long…considering it lasted 34 hours.  With our 4am departure time from the hotel, I decided that I wasn’t going to fall asleep (and risk not waking up); rather I would have plenty of time to sleep on the plane.

So I took my time and packed, talked to my family, talked to some friends, re-packed, wrote my Day 5 post, watched a bit of TV, showered, and re-packed once again.

Cognizant of the 50 pound limit for my suitcase, I was anxious to see how heavy it actually was.  Leaving Vancouver, my suitcase only weighed around 35 pounds as I knew I’d need to leave room for souvenirs, gifts, and a bunch of World Youth Day merch.

I weighed myself.  Then I weighed myself carrying my suitcase.  Then I did it again. And again. And again.

Turns out that my suitcase weighed 22.7 kilograms, or 49.94 pounds.  Talk about cutting it close!

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Just before 4am, I dragged by 49.94 pound suitcase to the hotel lobby and greeted my PR Manager Eunice Hii who was celebrating her 26th birthday.

We met our other traveling companions and hopped in the van to go to the airport.  Check in and security went really smoothly and we boarded the plane for our first flight:  a quick 75-minute trip to Frankfurt.

Once we got to the Frankfurt Airport, Eunice and I said bye to Lisa (who was on her way back to Hawaii…poor girl).  But not before she took this selfie.

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After walking for about 10 minutes (the Frankfurt Airport is massive) Eunice and I got through passport control and went for breakfast.  I bought myself a salad (it was Friday, after all) and we sat down to eat.

And I apologized to Eunice for being stuck with me for two of her milestone days…within one week.

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Our 10-hour flight to Vancouver was rather uneventful, especially compared to our rocky flight to Krakow.  I alternated between sleeping and watching movies:  I finished the Steve Jobs movie and I watched Black Mass.  It was a tad violent for my liking, but still entertaining.

When it came to dinner (under Poland time, but breakfast under Vancouver time), I asked for the cheese tortellini.  I took 2 bites and couldn’t finish it; it was brutal.  I was pretty hungry but I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the tortellini.  After much deliberation, I asked the flight attendant to replace it with the chicken and spaghetti.  Yes, chicken.  And I knew it was Friday.  But I resigned myself to doing a good deed later on in the day.

Well, the chicken dish never came.  And I didn’t follow up on it.  I figured it was God’s way of saying, “Suck it up princess…you should be able to go one day without meat.”

I decided against reminding God that this particular day was 10 hours longer than usual.

We landed just before 1pm, I went through customs, grabbed my luggage, and said bye to the birthday girl.  I took a cab home, brought my suitcase in, and then Sean (who had the day off from school) and I went to Matsuyama for some much-missed sushi.

I brought Sean with me to St. Matthew’s Parish in Surrey for our big FREEDOM youth reconciliation event.   We joined the St. Matthews’ youth ministry volunteers who were hustling and bustling getting ready for the evening gathering.

I had a lot of people welcome me back and ask me how my trip was and if I was jet lagged.  At the time, I felt really good.  In fact, I told people, “I feel good.  I slept in the car and let Sean drive here.”

Some people actually laughed.

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The event was a tremendous success, and I was grateful for the work and energy that Matthew Furtado and the youth and young adult ministry communities of St. Matthews put into it.  One particular highlight for me was the opportunity to hear two of the most talented and faithful young women – Monica and Alyssa – lead worship.  Watch out for these 2 ladies; they truly are special.

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One funny moment occurred at the start of Archbishop Michael’s talk.  As I sat in the front row getting ready to take pictures, he started off by saying:

“It’s so good to see so many youth here at FREE…hey Clay…I see you’re back from Poland.”

Some of the participants chuckled.  Admittedly, I was happy that my buddy acknowledged me in front of hundreds of people haha.

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After a quick clean-up, Sean and I went home, stepping in our door just before 1am.  I fell asleep just after 2am and got up at 8am to take the boys bowling.  I felt fine during the day and I snuck in a quick 2-hour nap on Saturday afternoon.

My jet lag finally hit me on Saturday night as I slept all the way through to 11:30am on Sunday morning.  Since then, I’ve adjusted quite well (at least I’d like to think so) and am back into my regular routine.

I’ve been able to share some of my experiences with family, friends, and co-workers.  For the people who have been keeping up with my #ClayinKrakow posts, I haven’t had much in addition to say to them haha.

I am so thankful that I had this opportunity to travel to Krakow.  It is a beautiful city full of rich history.  It was clean, quiet, and calm….basically the exact opposite of what it will be like in July for World Youth Day.

There were so many memorable moments:  visiting Wadowice, experiencing Auschwitz, praying with relics and in historic shrines and sanctuaries, placing my shoes next to St. John Paul II’s slippers, seeing the Salt Mines, and eating perogies.

As well, Eunice and I didn’t kill each other, I made some new friends (while connecting with old ones), and I was able to learn a lot in advance of this summer’s World Youth Day.

I’ll need to take some time to decipher my notes and soon report my findings to the local World Youth Day group leaders.

I’m thankful.

I’m hopeful.

I’m blessed.

And to everyone who supported me and prayed for me:  Dziękuję (thank you)!